Friday, September 18, 2009

Four months of adventure in a few paragraphs

Before I begin with my updates, I want to first apologize for my tardiness in getting in contact with you! Because I'm starting this so late, this first post might be a bit overwhelming. We shall see...

I've been with eMi for about a month now, and I must say the time has flown by! I spent the first 8 days at the Hideaway in Colorado Springs with the interns from all offices and the eMi-Colorado Springs staff. We had a busy, but very fun and informative week getting to know each other and learning about eMi's world mission. I can assure you that God is very real and very alive in our world, and I'm ready to go to work for Him. I agree with C.S. Lewis (and Kevin Spacey in the "Usual Suspects") that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist. We need to work to fix that.

We arrived in Costa Rica very "late" on a Monday night, the 24th of August. I must say the definition of late in the night is quite different than we are used to in the United States. We arrived at around 9 pm, which may seem early to you. However, if you consider that everyone's days typically start at about 5 am, it's really not that early. After my first day in Costa Rica, I was ready to sleep well before 9 pm.

The first week here, we had a another, more specialized orientation for just our office. We got to meet the staff here: Dan, Tim, Tom, and each of their families. There is one other staff member, Micah, who is coming here next week. I'm looking forward to getting to know each of them both in and out of the office. They taught us a little more about Latin American culture and prepared us for some of the different customs here. One way to fit in in a different country: be 6'6" and white. Speak scratchy Spanish. I love it here :)

During this first week, I also met and moved in with my host family, who live about a mile or two away from the eMi office. They are Anna and Edgar, who have three children: Esteban (9), Andres (8), and Ana Maria (4). I'm having an awesome time with them. I am able to understand Anna and Edgar for the most part, but I'm still not catching all said by the kids. I don't think the ninos quite understand that my Spanish comprehension level isn't the highest. I'm getting pretty good at the smile and nod technique, especially when Ana Maria goes on long rants to me about who knows what. Fortunately, we can communicate in many other ways, such as laughing and playing. Sometimes I'll play soccer in the evenings with the boys, and other times I'll color with Ana Maria. I hope you won't be worried about me if I tell you that the night before last I spent much of my evening coloring pictures of dogs, ducks, and kittens. Before you know it, I might be wearing a Peter Pan costume...

One thing I forgot to bring is an alarm clock. At first I was worried about this (my host family doesn't have an extra one), so I planned to buy one immediately. However, I've noticed in Costa Rica, it is almost impossible to "sleep in." Every morning at about 6 am I am wide awake thanks to the abundance of sunlight, roosters, dogs, and cows. I'm convinced these three animals make enough noise to wake up the entire country, let alone me. I still don't have an alarm clock, but I'm not at all worried about sleeping in too late!

After our week of orientation, we spent two weeks in a Spanish Language School. We learned a lot in the midst of much frustration (since our teachers didn't speak English). Now that it's a week after the school, my brain is finally starting to catch up on all that we learned. I feel like I'm starting to pick up the language pretty well now, and I'm hoping to be much better at it before I leave in December.

After two weeks of language school, we started working in the office and here we are. Today is Friday of my first week of work. I've done much of the same stuff I learned last summer at my internship in Broomfield, Colorado. I feel like I am very well prepared for this job, and I'm excited now to be working. I know that sounds a little funny, but because of the purpose of our work, it is truly an enjoyable job!

This brings me to my last thought in this post: project trips to Haiti. In our office, there are two projects that we will be working on. One is a youth facility for YWAM and the other is a church. Both are in Haiti. Two of the interns, Avery and Nick, are leaving with their team tomorrow (Saturday) for Haiti. The two other interns, Christy and I, are leaving with our team a week from tomorrow (next Saturday). We are defnitely praying for the mission and the well being of those off to Haiti tomorrow. The voudoo religion and customs have a very strong hold of the Haitian people, and I think this one of reasons for all the corruption and poverty in Haiti. Haiti is not a safe place to go, especially for Christians. Please keep our two teams in your prayers the next few weeks.

Once again, sorry for the long post, but I got a little behind. In the future I'd like to keep this updated about once every week or two. I'll try to let you know when it's updated.

If you want to contact me, the best way is through my email at benjamin.gunden@colorado.edu (I've kept the same one from college). If you have any questions or want to talk, please contact me through my email or facebook -- I'd love to hear from you!




Last weekend I went bungee jumping with some friends from our language school. Check it out!